Glasgow night club chips its sheep customers…

Following in the footsteps of a club in Barcelona, the Glasgow night club, Bar Soba, has decided that its cattle customers can avoid the hassle of having to bring their wallets with them if they get a VeriChip stuck under their skin:

A Scottish nightclub is about to become the first in Britain to offer its customers the chance to have a microchip implanted in their arm to save them carrying cash.

The “digital wallet”, the size of a grain of rice, guarantees entry to the club and allows customers to buy drinks on account. Brad Stevens, owner of Bar Soba in Glasgow, said his customers had responded enthusiastically to the idea.

The VeriChip is inserted by a medical professional and then scanned for its unique ID number as a customer enters the bar.

“There are a number of advantages, from instant access, to not having to carry money or credit cards, to letting bar staff know a customer’s name and favourite drink,” said Mr Stevens. “By the time you walk through the door to the bar, your favourite drink is waiting for you and the bar staff can greet you by name.”

What’s to stop someone else reading the chip without your knowledge, stealing its unique ID number and creating their own chip using your ID and your money to buy drinks at Bar Soba?

What’s to stop someone using this chip to track your whereabouts at other times for more sinister purposes?

It seems that getting yourself chipped is the latest in a line of bad suggestions for what to do with these things, e.g.:

  • A company in Mexico will chip your kids ostensibly as a measure to prevent them being kidnapped. Surely this simply means the kidnappers will now mutilate the kids to remove the things? Maybe they’ll even get scanners in order to track the kids to kidnap them in the first place?
  • A couple in the UK were reported to have decided to chipped their daughter after the murder of 2 girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, in Soham. This received the backing of academic Kevin Warwick.
  • Schemes for chipping schoolkids’ clothing, or in tags they wear around their necks to e.g. keep tabs on their arrival/departure from school have been proposed or are being implemented, e.g. in Japan and the US.

Spy.org.uk have this to say about such schemes (and I quite agree):

These so called “security” chips are the 21st century version of permanent cattle brands (indeed the original market for Verichips is for prize cattle and pet cats and dogs) or tattoos.

We find the concept completely unethical, bordering on actually evil. What is there to prevent this technology being used by exploiters of slave labour, pimps and brothel keepers, religous cults, abusive or paedophile parents or police states in order to control the movements of their victims and to prevent escape via actual alarm systems or the fear that “we will track you down if you try to escape”? (Emphasis added)

I’d add that the current uses of these chips for tracking children or allowing you to pay for drinks without having your wallet with you will tend to get people used to having technology in them/their clothing allowing them to be tracked 24/7.

Note that many of us already voluntarily carry around devices that can be used to track us — our mobile phones. At least we can easily leave them behind or switch them off if we want to stop it. A chip under the skin will be a different matter — fancy gouging it out just for some privacy?

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